Tacoma struggles to keep offense going

Staff writerMay 27, 2014 

They scored 12 runs Sunday, but the Tacoma Rainiers still lost, felled by a poor performance from their bullpen.

Less than 24 hours later, the script was flipped: Tacoma scored one run Monday and had two hits, and only one of those left the infield.

That didn’t work, either.

The Rainiers lost the final game of a five-game series against the El Paso Chihuahuas, 3-1, before an announced Memorial Day crowd of 3,538 at Cheney Stadium. Meaningful contact eluded them against El Paso starter Matt Wisler, who threw seven innings of two-hit ball and allowed only that one unearned run while striking out seven.

“He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes,” Rainiers manager Roy Howell said. “He threw his breaking stuff for strikes. His change-up was good, spotting his fastball. He pitched very well. Used both sides of the plate. That keeps the hitter off-stride and guessing a little bit.”

A two-run home run in the third inning by Chihuahuas second baseman Brooks Conrad — his 10th of the season — provided all the cushion El Paso (24-28) needed.

Those were the only runs allowed by Rainiers starter Andrew Carraway (2-4), who made it through seven innings, allowing eight hits, striking out five and walking one.

That was after a 30-pitch first inning that seemed to indicate a long day might be ahead.

“Then he started attacking the strike zone and threw the ball well,” Howell said.

But Tacoma’s bats couldn’t pick him up.

Wisler retired the first 11 Rainiers batters before allowing a fourth-inning double to Ty Kelly, who scored after El Paso shortstop Jace Peterson made a throwing error on a ground ball hit by designated hitter Jesus Montero.

After that, it was all Wisler, a touted San Diego Padres prospect who entered the game with an 0-3 record and 13.50 earned-run average.

His performance Monday betrayed those numbers. Wisler issued his only walk to Xavier Avery to start the fifth and allowed Tacoma’s second hit, a rare infield knock by Montero, to start the seventh. Neither materialized into a rally, and El Paso’s bullpen pitched two perfect innings to end it.

The Rainiers (21-28) have had five or fewer hits in five of their past eight games. They registered just two such performances in their first 41 games this season.

The Chihuahuas added another run in the ninth off Rainiers reliever Lucas Luetge. Rocky Gale drove in Cody Decker with a one-out single.

Logan Morrison, the Seattle Mariners outfielder who is playing for the Rainiers as part of a rehabilitation assignment while recovering from a strained hamstring, played five innings at first base. He was 0-for-2 at the plate.

Center fielder Abraham Almonte, who began the season as the Mariners’ leadoff hitter, fouled a ball off his toe in the fourth and left the game after playing one more inning in the field. Howell said a prognosis would have to wait until at least Tuesday.

ON TAP

The Rainiers begin a four-game series against the Salt Lake Bees at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday. Tacoma right-hander Jordan Pries (3-2, 1.80 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against right-hander Jarrett Grube (2-2, 3.95). The game will be broadcast on 850-AM.

christian.caple@ thenewstribune.com @ChristianCaple

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